The Cartesianism of Michel Henry’s Philosophy and Phenomenology of the Body – Between the Affective Cogito and the Intellectualist One

Wojciech Starzyński

In this paper I intend to focuse the main points of the interpretation of Descartes offered by the early Michel Henry in his book Philosophy and phenomenology of the body. Henry’s „Cartesian way” took shape as part of its dialogue with Maine de Biran. Henry assumes the Cartesian cogito as essentially aff ective, a thesis which was already accepted by Descartes himself, but has been obscured by his intellectualist and objectivist attitude. In explaining the affective pattern of the cogito in contrast to Merleau-Ponty, Henry denounces the Cartesian doctrine of the union of soul and body, since, far from saving the corporeal nature of the subjectivity, condemns the cogito to its objectifi cation.


Keywords: Michel Henry · Descartes · cogito · affectivity · union of soul and body

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